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Friday, April 20, 2012

Coachella 2012 Review - Sunday

Photo by me.  All good photos are by Mike.

All in all, this was a tough Coachella for me to review in my usual snarky style, because it was so amazing.  Everyone at the festival was friendly and "chocolate wasted," the talent was there and performed exceptionally well, and while there were sound problems rampant on Friday, by Sunday they'd all been cleared up.  It's too bad that Sunday was so thin, overall.

We made an honest effort to get there early to see Alf Alpha, but for the first time over the weekend, we couldn't get there early enough to wait for the gates to open.  It was strange, though, on Saturday when we were waiting for Suedehead, there was supposedly a DJ named DJP playing, but we didn't realize that he was actually there, just way off to the side of the stage, until just before Suedehead took the stage.

Found our friends Jason & MJ and headed over to the Heineken Dome to check out the talent there.  This was the first time in years that I'd taken the trouble to get a wristband for the 21+ drinking areas, but it was totally worth it.  The Heineken Dome is AIR CONDITIONED!  Plus there are DJs in there playing pretty decent music.  I'm not sure if we saw Barry Weaver or Dusty Carter, but whoever it was did it up right.  Plus, the visuals were stunning.  Great swirling stuff on the ceiling... I took a movie of it and will put it into Jitter and muck around with it even more, posthaste.

Mike was a bit overwhelmed by the whub whub (my word, not his) so we headed out.  What awaited us was Lissie on the Outdoor Theatre.  Lissie was an obvious Stagecoach hand-me-down artist, which can sometimes be great (Trampled by Turtles, Willie Nelson), but more often is just potato flour in the discount sausage, if you know what I mean.  Filler.  Like many early-day bands, she was good at what she did, but it sounded a lot like the music you'd hear at a bar in Alabama, between the time you declared that the North won the Civil War, and when you had your head introduced to your asshole.

I am not responsible for anything that happened between when we left Lissie and when we finally showed up at the Swedish country & western band First Aid Kit.  I swear, we wandered around because we could.  There was nothing compelling on any of the stages, tents, domes, or Do Lab, so we wandered like (insert ethnic group here) around the desert, dodging young fucked-ups. First Aid Kit could easily fit in at Stagecoach, but I don't think they'll cover a Fever Ray song like they did here.  "Have any of you heard of a Swedish artist named Fever Ray?" the one asked.  I was pretty sure Fever Ray wasn't going to show up.  That would be like having Jello Biafra come on out and sing a few tunes with The Grateful Dead.  But they did cover When I Grow Up, which was interesting.  Very reverent, but totally country.  Weird, overall, but nice.

We passed by Gobi to catch a shitty earful of Greg Ginn & the Royal We, and let me tell you, it sounded like crap was being poured into our ears.  The drums weren't even close to keeping time, and the guitar was just a bunch of random stupid noodles.  It sounded like the retarded siblings of kids in a garage band somehow found their way into the garage, turned on the amps, and were banging away on the instruments, with no regard for rhythm, musicality or human life.  Some remember Greg as the drummer for Black Flag, but I'll always remember him as the soulless cocksucker who sued Negativland after the whole U2 debacle.

 Greg Ginn & the Royal We - Musical Poop

Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 were a real highlight on the Outdoor Theatre Sunday.  I'm not sure how big the crowd was, because we were right up front and enjoying it too much to really give a shit.  Plus, Mike got some amazing pictures, and I'd rather let those do the talking.  Seun is one of the 80+ sons of Fela Kuti, and he jams.  That first part is a lie.  I heard Fela had a shitload of kids but I can't prove it.  Then again, if you come here for facts, you're barking up the wrong blog, Jack.

Headed over to Real Estate for something quite different indeed.  This was a set we had to truncate, sadly, to make it back in time for araabMUZIK.  We actually just sat and chilled for Real Estate's set, which was fine with us.  It was good, but so mellow, it's hard to really enjoy a mellow band at Coachella sometimes because you usually just want to rage, and if you truly do want to enjoy a band that's chill, usually there's some fuckstick rap/rock nightmare on the next stage baring over it.  Here's their full set.

Car trip, food trip, then over to the Mojave tent for araabMUZIK, where we weaseled our way right in front of the soundboard.  As we were waiting, our senses were being bombarded by what I think was Gonorrhea by Lil Wayne (featuring Drake).  It was pretty intense, partially because the bass had been turned up to full blast in order to accommodate the beat-centric music of araabMUZIK.  I can't for the life of me figure out who this song is by, but the lyrics keep repeating "I get high as fuck" over and over.  That, plus the razor bassline, made me feel like I was about to be blown into a million pieces. Or at least two.  And that was the music BEFORE the artist started.

While I appreciated what araabMUZIK did live, I was really hoping for something much more like what I'd heard online.  His YouTube stuff features him mostly making killer beats, all live and all by hand with MPC samplers over melodic trance music.  At Coachella, however, he decided he needed to start with what seemed like an eternity of tuneless, warbling dubstep samples.  While it was brilliantly executed, I truly thought I was going to lose my shit right there in the tent before the set was over.

While part of me wanted to get out of there, a larger part of me just couldn't resist watching this freak of nature.  I wondered how long he could possibly go on doing what he was doing, with all ten fingers flying over the MPC's pads and working the mixer faders like it was what he was born to do.  It turns out he could do it for the full 50 minutes.  Pretty impressive, but equally draining as a Mogwai set.  Take a look at this video.  It's 49 seconds long.  Imagine 60 times that, and you'll know why you don't need drugs to freak out at Coachella.

We twitched out of that tent like stunned gnats that had just gone through electroshock therapy, trying to make our way to The Weeknd's set on Outdoor Theatre before we totally spazzed out.  We didn't get too close, unfortunately, but we did get close enough to be surrounded by people who were interested in seeing the  set.  They were pretty good overall, though I think the vocalist was just getting warmed up by the time we decided to split their set with Gotye's.  Not to worry, The Weeknd's full set is available online.

We weaved through the crowd to try to get over to Gotye's set, but the cross-current was too strong, and we never actually got there.  Despite trying for ten minutes, we zigged and zagged through The Weeknd's crowd, through part of the cross-crowd of people going from The Weeknd to Gotye, and the crowd just going from two other different places, to no avail.  Gotye had a huge crowd, and had I known their song Somebody That I Used To Know was recently featured on Glee, I would have said fuck it.  But here's a video anyway.

 Next, we had our only appointment of the weekend in the Sahara Tent to see Calvin Harris.  I was really hoping for a live show, and the 25-minute intermission between the previous DJ and Calvin Harris suggested that they needed time to setup something like that.  However, it turned out to be a DJ set.   While I appreciated that he wasn't spinning fucking dubstep like all the other artists, I was really hoping for a live set, so we split.

Justice was really late going on, so we ended up catching a few songs they did.  Predictably, they opened with Genesis / Let There Be Light from Cross, which was excellent.  After that, they started into their new material, which I must admit was much better live than on the album.

We had some time to kill before our final pick of the festival, so we wandered over to Girl Talk.  The closer we got, the more Mike's smile turned into a frown.

"I feel like I'm being violated," he stated blankly.

My take on it:  "This is like that scene in Fight Club where Tyler Durden beats the shit out of the pretty boy, like until his face isn't even recognizable as a face, and then says, 'I wanted to destroy something beautiful.'"

Sorry Girl Talk fans, we didn't get it.  He takes two good songs, or two shitty songs, or a good song and a shitty song, and makes you hate them all.  That's not talent, that's musical genocide.

We finally positioned ourselves in our favorite spot for Florence + The Machine.  I wasn't too familiar with their material, but for Mike, they were a must see.  I'm glad I checked them out, because they were about the best thing I saw on Sunday.  They didn't have a lot of competition overall, though, as Sunday seemed about as tacked on as a third day has.

If you disagree, keep in mind that I don't listen to hip hop or shitty music.

So, back to Flo.  That chick can SANG man.  She was all parading around in this long, flowing dress, like that scene in Prince of Darkness when the angel of death appears at the door of the church in the dream sequence.  It was eerily good.  And it's not just her.  The band is spot-on, and she's a great performer to boot.

So overall, it was a great Coachella.  Top four of the eleven I've been to, I think.  I just don't think anything's ever going to beat 2008, where we witnessed Kraftwerk, Portishead and Prince all in a row on the Coachella Stage, or 2004, where we saw Radiohead, Pixies and Kraftwerk on Friday, and then saw Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips walk over the crowd in a gigantic hamster bubble.  Yeah, I heard about the hologram of Tupac, and that would have been pretty cool if I gave a shit about Tupac, but I don't.  So I stand by my statements, as usual, but I admit that I may have been wrong about them expanding to two weekends.  We'll see if they can pull off a carbon copy this weekend, but either way, Coachella 2012 Weekend 1 was fucking epic.

And yes, as ALWAYS:  Everyone who attended Coachella was, all the time, was incredibly...


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